Introduction to System Dynamics
Using Insight Maker

Explanation of Insight Maker Model

I will attempt to clearly describe the operation of this model in general. I can always improve explanations, so please let me know (using the e-mail address below) of any difficulty you have in understanding this description.

I have broken this description down into four major components – the top row of descriptive links, the second row of clickable icons, the main panel in which the model appears, and lastly the simulation panel that appears when you run a simulation:

Top Row

Across the top of the model frame you'll find some command links, which I will describe below:

Insight discussion
This link will open a dialog box in which you can make comments on the model. Feel free to use this as a way to make comments about a specific model.
full screen insight
This link allows you to open a full screen version of the Insight Maker model in another tab or window. I suggest that you read the descriptive text above and below the model before you go to the full screen version, because those comments will not be available to you.
The help link opens a page in another tab or window on which you will find a description of the operation of the insight maker software. You should not need to use this help function as an observer of the models here.
find more insights
This link opens a page in another window or tab and gives you access to other Insight Maker models. You may find these interesting but I suggest that you refrain from searching for other models until you've completed this presentation.
up arrow
In the far upper right-hand corner of the frame containing the model you'll find a small up arrow. This arrow collapses and expands the contents of the second row, which I will describe shortly.

Second Row

Second row contains a series of icons that when clicked will help you examine this model. I have described them below:

If you wish to scribble some comments or draw some arrows on this model, click the scratchpad and have a go at it. Keep in mind that your scratchings will not be saved.
The zoom icon does pretty much what you expect it to. If you wish to zoom in or out depending on your screen size, use this button.
Run simulation
The run simulation button will open a panel inside the model window and plot the results of the simulation. I will describe the simulation panel below.
Insight Maker Logo
In addition to identifying the program upon which this model operates, the insight maker logo can be clicked to take you to the insight maker website.

Main Panel

The main panel of the insight maker has two sections: the model area in the Collapsible sidebar:

Model Area
The model area contains the diagram upon which the model is based. It will contain stocks, flows, variables, and feedbacks – all of which have been described elsewhere on this website.
Collapsible sidebar
The sidebar contains a brief description of the model along with other information including if available the quantity slider form of the variables listed. In the upper right-hand corner of the sidebar you'll find some right arrows that will allow you to collapse the sidebar and make the model area more accessible.


After you click the run simulation button a panel will open that includes a graph representing the output from the model. That panel includes the following items:

At the top of the simulation panel you will see one or more tabs. If the simulation has more than one tab, you can click those tabs to see the presentation of additional information.
Control bar
At the bottom of the simulation panel you'll find the control bar similar to what you will find on video playback systems. You can use the button at the left and the slider to control the playback. You can pause the simulation at any point, restart the simulation after a pause, and replay the simulation all with the button at the left. With the slider you can move the simulation backward or forward in time.
Speed Control
By clicking the down arrow on the speed control you can select whatever speed of play best suits your purpose. You will have to play with this control to figure out what works best for you.

Model Details

Under this tab I want to provide some details of this model that those who want to understand the details of the model might be more interested in. These details may not interest someone who just wants to get a general overview of how this economic model works.

General Information

Here is some general information that might help you understand some of the more detailed aspects of this model.

Model Variables

If you hold your mouse over the variables in this model you will see appear an equal sign and a small letter "i."

If you click on the equal sign, a box will open that shows you either the constants or the formulas included in this variable.

If you click on the "i," you will find some information about the variable. (I have attempted to thoroughly document the models in this presentation; however, if you don't find an information link, please forgive me for now and drop me a line to alert me as to the oversight.)

Right Panel

In the panel at the right, which you can close by using the right arrow in the upper right-hand corner, you'll find some information and links that pertain to this model.

At the top you will find a brief description of the model itself. Next you will see some links for various ways to share this model, if you wish. Below that you will find a tank or tags that indicate what group this model belongs in on the insight maker database. Next, you will find a link to the profile of the model author. Then, on some models, you'll find the slider that permits you to adjust the values input to specific variables. I will describe the operation of the slider and how you can use it below.

Running Simulations

You have the capability of running several simulations using the same model. In this simple model you can run simulations to see the change in variables based on changes in a single variable – base consumption rate.

When you click the run simulation button the model will generate a chart that represents the simulation showing the various values generated by the model. You will notice in the upper right-hand corner the title "Simulation Results" followed by a number. The number indicates which simulation in a series of simulations you have run beginning with number one. This first simulation will generate a chart based on the values that I described above.

You can now change the value of the base consumption rate by moving the slider. After you have adjusted the input file value using the slider (or by typing in the value), you can click the run simulation button and generate a new chart. With each new chart that you generate you will notice a change in the number following the "Simulation Results," indicating which in a series of simulations this chart represents.

Feel free to make changes in these values and rerun the simulation to get an idea as to how the model operates and what effect changing the variables will have. You can also use the buttons in the upper right-hand corner to resize the charts in order to see the comparisons between different variations.